Beauty: The Difference Between Nature and Human

photo by Hunter Folsom

photo by Hunter Folsom

By: Josie Smith

Recently, I tried an experiment on some of my friends. In the middle of a conversation, whether we were talking about something simple like The Bachelor or something more complex like our innermost thoughts, I would ask them to name three of the most beautiful things in the world. Without exception, someone would mention a sunrise or a sunset. We talked about mountain ranges and ocean depths and winding trails, painting these incredible pictures of natural beauty. Some women had stories or memories attached to their locations: a feeling of pure freedom, a moment of celebration or joy. Occasionally, this question led to conversations of our futures and the ways we wanted to pursue our passions.

But between the picture-perfect scenes, the memories and the feelings, not once did someone mention another person as an image of beauty. 

If I had asked them to name beautiful people, no doubt they could have gone on for days. Our society is perpetually invaded by images of new standards of perfection. And to be totally honest, 98% of the time I would easily include myself and my friends in that list of people. So, it can’t be that we don’t think of women as beautiful. But when the question simply encompassed “beauty,” individual’s looks were never the first (or second or third) responses. Where does this disconnect occur?

I stumbled upon this really cool quote from Stasi Eldredge the other day: “beauty is an essence that dwells in every woman.” That word essence is defined as the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something that determines its character.

In nature, the essence of beauty is reflected through its physical appearance. We may attach memories or feelings to these places, but they just serve as visual reminders. Mountains and oceans don’t have a deeper level of complexity to confuse our interpretation of them. They are simply beautiful the way they appear. 

The essence of a woman, on the other hand, is a whole other story. How many millions of intrinsic qualities can be found to reveal beauty? An inclination for honesty, an approachable heart, a joyous spirit, a proficiency for sarcasm — any infinite combination of characteristics creates a fully unique essence for each woman. Our minds aren’t programmed to instantly evaluate these things as a visual representation of a person. And in comparison, individual physical beauty could never begin to measure up. 

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